Sprint is offering some color into their Sprint 4G roll out plans for the rest of 2009. Ten markets have been identified for 4G designation, including Atlanta, Honolulu, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Portland, Fort Worth, and Seattle. It’s no coincidence that the plans closely follow Clearwire’s plans, since Sprint’s 4G service is enabled through Clearwire’s 4G WIMAX network. Sprint also announced some 4G device plans. They intend to offer three 4G devices to start with, including a single-mode 4G data card, a small-office-home-office broadband modem, and a tri-mode phone. They also intend to leverage WiMAX chip embedded laptops.
It will be interesting to watch if Sprint intends to offer a VoIP enabled smartphone for their 4G offer. Clearwire is testing such a 4G VoIP device now in Portland and hopes to roll it out commercially in 2010. Such a device presents cannibalization implications for Sprint, considering it may eat into Sprint’s traditional wireless business. In fact, the entire Clearwire WiMAX model will be interesting to watch. The core Clearwire network will enable multiple competitors, including Clearwire itself with its Clear brand, cable companies who will offer 4G services, and Sprint 4G as well. All of these telecompetitors will be chasing the same market, with basically the same service (with their own spin on it). Soon, it will be time for their respective marketing departments to earn their pay.